The 2017 NFL season is right around the corner, and preseason action is giving us our first look at new weapons for teams across the division. Rookies and free agents are getting into the swing of things with their new teams, and some of those rookies are big-time stars from the collegiate ranks.
AFC SOUTH ROOKIE RANKINGS: Who Will Have an Immediate Impact?
MORE: Predicting the 2017 Comeback Player of the Year in the AFC South
Which AFC South rookie will have the best 2017 campaign? For my money it's Jacksonville Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette, the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Fournette had an impressive career at LSU, rushing for 1,034 yards and 10 touchdowns on 187 carries as a freshman and following it up with 1,953 yards and 22 touchdowns on 300 carries as a sophomore. He was slowed by injury in 2016 during his junior season, but rushed for 843 yards and 8 scores on 129 carries in 7 games.
He averaged 5.5 yards per carry as a freshman and 6.5 yards per carry in his sophomore and junior seasons, averaging 6.2 yards per carry over the course of his collegiate career.
A punishing runner, Fournette made defenders pay when they got in his way.
Welcome back, Leonard Fournette.https://t.co/lQ7Wp0pqUI
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 23, 2016
Although the power run game is his strong suit, he wasn't completely one-dimensional in college. He caught 41 passes for 526 yards and a score in his career.
In Jacksonville, Fournette will not have as dominating of an offensive line as he did at LSU. He will, however, have more of a passing game to balance out his offense.
Blake Bortles has been far from what you want out of a third overall draft selection at quarterback, but he's been capable, and has several strong targets in the passing game in Allen Robinson, Allen Hurns and Marqise Lee. Teams will not be able to sell out against the run on Fournette the way they did in college.
Fournette will get plenty of opportunities to carry the load for the Jaguars this fall. He should be a front-runner for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, and should be the best rookie in the AFC South.